The Tusculan Papacy was a period of papal history from 1012 to 1048 where three successive relatives of the counts of Tusculum were installed as pope.
Count Theophylact I of Tusculum, his wife Theodora, and daughter Marozia held great sway over the appointment of popes from 904 to 964. The lovers of Theodora and Marozia, as well as the son and grandson of Marozia, rose to the papacy during this period. However, a Count of Tusculum had not yet attempted to appoint himself as pope until 1012. Their rivals, the Crescentii had taken over the papacy from 974 to 1012.
According to Cushing, "in many ways, increasing respect for papal authority from the mid-tenth century to mid-eleventh centuries can be best viewed through the spectrum of two Roman families: the Crescentians and the Tusculans, whose control of the papacy would have important ramifications for both the control and direction of reform."Both the Crescentii and the Counts of Tusculum were descended from Theophylact I, the former papal vestararius . The Crescentii had cooperated with German empress Theophanu and Otto III, Holy Roman Emperor, who resided in Rome from 999 to 1001.
The Tusculans did not expropriate church property to increase the already substantial holdings of their family; in fact, they appear to have expended their own resources to increase the power of the papacy.According to Luscombe and Riley-Smith, "in contrast to the Crescentians, who had largely relied on the entrenchment of their own dynasty and their supporters in the duchy of Rome as secular magnates and landowners – often at the expense of the temporal power of the Roman church – the Tusculans used their secular power and successes to shore up the standing of the papacy among the Roman nobility. The position of Patrician, so important to Crescentian rule, remained vacant."
Abbot Odilo of Cluny flourished during this period, receiving support from Benedict VII and John XIX for monastic immunity.The power of the Tusculan popes derived both from their assertions of papal supremacy and from their ability to balance power between the competing families of Rome.
The Counts of Tusculum were centered at Tuscolo, above Frascati, protected by an ancient fortress in Borghetto; their principle monasteries were Grottaferrata and Subiaco; they also controlled many churches and religious houses in and around Rome.
In 1012, Rome saw a violent political upheaval then ended Crescentii domination and elevated Theophylact, the son of Count Gregory I of Tusculum, as Pope Benedict VIII (1012–1024).Benedict VIII was a layman until his election. However, during his papacy he was a strong proponent of papal supremacy and frequently interfered in ecclesiastical matters on the Italian peninsula outside Rome. Benedict VIII's brother, Romanus, was the city prefect ("Senator of all the Romans"). His other brother, Alberic, was a Consul and Senator (" consul et dux "). Alberic was responsible for overseeing courts of justice in the Imperial Palatinate, near Santa Sabina.
Gregory I had been a figure in the court of Emperor Otto III as the "naval prefect" and Alberic had been the "master of the imperial palace".Other Roman families still held important offices: the Stefaniani family held the prefecture of Rome and the Ottaviani retained the rectorate of Sabina.
Among Benedict VIII's first acts as pope was a military campaign against the strongholds of the Crescentii around Rome.The Crescenzi fortresses in Sabina were demolished. The Crescentii faction set up a rival to Benedict VIII: Antipope Gregory VI (1012). John Crescentius still remained the Prefect of Rome, but was soon dispossessed of much of his property.
Benedict VIII was an ally of Emperor Henry II; he called upon the emperor to visit Rome, which he did in late 1013 (spending Christmas in Pavia).A synod convoked by the emperor deposed the archbishop of Ravenna, who was replaced with Arnulf, a half-brother. Benedict VIII and the emperor met in Ravenna, and then proceeded to Rome (with the emperor arriving later).
Benedict VIII confirmed his privileges at Bamberg and crowned him on February 14, 1014 as emperor, in a ceremony in Old Saint Peter's Basilica.These twelve people calling themselves the Senate of Rome had doubtlessly consented to the coronation before it occurred. Benedict VIII visited Henry II in Bamberg in 1020 (where he celebrated Easter), and the emperor came to Italy the following year. In Bamberg, Henry issued the Henricianum , which repeated the Diploma Ottonianum , which itself had repeated donations of land which date back to the Frankish Papacy. The Henricianum, as much as the forged "Donation of Constantine", played a central role in papal territorial and sovereignty claims in the coming centuries.
Just as Henry II was promising the pope this territory, the pope was being deprived of nearly all of his temporal power by the armies of John Patricius, and competing hereditary counts had "sprung up on both sides of the Tiber".While the Tusculans remained strong in the Latin mountains, the Counts of Segni controlled Campagna, the Crescentii held Sabina, the Counts of Galeria controlled Tuscany, and Thrasmundus, Berardus, and Oderisius retained the Marsian territory as far as Subiaco. According to Gregorovius, "of the dominions founded for them by the Carolingians the popes possessed little beyond the yellowed deeds of gift in their archives".
In 1016, a Pisan and Genoese fleet defeated the Arabs, in a victory which Benedict VIII may have something to do with; he also possibly schemed with the Normans against the Byzantines in southern Italy.Benedict VIII himself led an allied force against Mussetus, who escaped after the battle of Luni. However, in 1018, Melo, the leader of the rebellion against the Greeks was defeated. The Germans honored the Henricianum in 1022 by sending their own army to southern Italy.
In 1022, Benedict VIII held with Henry II a council in Ravenna which issued stringent prohibitions against clerical concubinage.
Benedict VIII's brother Romanus succeeded him as Pope John XIX (1024–1032).John XIX did not resign his secular titles ("senatorial dignity") upon his election as pope; documents would refer to him not as "Senator" but as "Count Palatine and Consul". According to Cushing, John XIX was "somewhat less adept" than his brother in cooperating with Henry II's successor, Conrad II, Holy Roman Emperor but was "by no means a puppet".
John XIX was open to rapprochement with Byzantine emperor Basil II and was willing to declare the patriarch of Constantinople an ecumenical bishop; the Italian bishops and congregation of Cluny, however, opposed such moves.
Pope Benedict IX (1032–1044, 1045, 1047–1048) was the nephew of Benedict VIII and John XIX.Norwood Young calls Benedict IX the "Nero of the Tusculan Papacy. Absolute power appears to paralyse the brain if applied at an early age." According to Cushing, "the report of [his] crimes and deviance became ever more squalid as the latter reformers grew in power" but was for the first 12 years of his papacy "adequate and credible, if not perhaps immensely pious". Another interpretation of his first twelve years is provided by successor Victor III:
Leading a life so shameful, so foul, so execrable that he shuddered to describe it. He ruled like a captain of banditti, rather than a prelate. Adulteries, homicides perpetrated by his own hand, passed unnoticed, unrevenged; for the patrician of the city, Gregory, was the brother of the Pope; and another brother, Peter, an active partisan ... The oppressed people at length grew weary of his robberies, murders, and abominations. They rose and drove him from the city, and proceeded to the election of John Bishop of Sabina, who took the name Silvester III.
By Autumn 1044, the position of Benedict IX was "seriously threatened" by the creation of Pope Silvester III (1045).In May 1045, Benedict IX resigned the papacy in favor of John Gratian, who became Pope Gregory VI (1045–1046). Henry III, Holy Roman Emperor met Gregory VI in 1046 and received him favorably. By December, however, Henry III had changed his mind and ordered Benedict IX, Silvester III, and Gregory VI to appear before him in a synod in Sutri. Gregory VI was the only one to show up, and he was declared guilty of simony and deposed on December 20. Silvester III had long since given up being pope and returned to acting as Bishop of Sabina but he too was deprived of his orders and forced to retire to a monastery.
Three days later, in Rome, Benedict IX was excommunicated for simony and Henry III's candidate, Bishop Suidger of Bamberg, was installed as Pope Clement II (1046–1047).
According to John Cowdrey, "the decline of the Tusculans and Crescentians was to a limited extent balanced by the emergence of newer families which were to provide valuable support for Gregory VII and the popes that followed him", including the Frangipani family and Pierleoni family.
The Tusculan Papacy "shaped other aspects of papal policy far beyond the reigns of the Tusculan popes themselves".The Chancery underwent important changes, and the filioque clause was introduced. A synod following Henry II's coronation in 1014 agreed to adopt the Frankish custom of reciting the Nicene Creed along with other prayers at mass on Sundays and other Holidays.
Pope Benedict VI was the bishop of Rome and ruler of the Papal States from 19 January 973 to his death in 974. His brief pontificate occurred in the political context of the establishment of the Holy Roman Empire, during the transition between the reigns of Otto I and Otto II, incorporating the struggle for power of Roman aristocratic families such as the Crescentii and Tusculani.
Pope Benedict VIII was the bishop of Rome and ruler of the Papal States from 18 May 1012 until his death. He was born Theophylact to the noble family of the counts of Tusculum. Unusually for a medieval pope, he had strong authority both in Rome and abroad.
Pope Benedict IX, born Theophylactus of Tusculum in Rome, was bishop of Rome and ruler of the Papal States on three occasions between October 1032 and July 1048. Aged approximately 20 at his first election, he is one of the youngest popes in history. He is the only man to have been pope on more than one occasion and the only man ever to have sold the papacy.
Pope Gregory VI, born John Gratian in Rome, was bishop of Rome and ruler of the Papal States from 1 May 1045 until his abdication at the Council of Sutri on 20 December 1046.
Pope Sylvester III, born John in Rome, was bishop of Rome and ruler of the Papal States from 20 January to March 1045.
Pope Sergius III was the bishop of Rome and nominal ruler of the Papal States from 29 January 904 to his death. He was pope during a period of violence and disorder in central Italy, when warring aristocratic factions sought to use the material and military resources of the papacy. Because Sergius III had reputedly ordered the murder of his two immediate predecessors, Leo V and Christopher, and allegedly fathered an illegitimate son who later became pope, John XI, his pontificate has been variously described as "dismal and disgraceful", and "efficient and ruthless".
Pope Damasus II was the bishop of Rome and ruler of the Papal States from 17 July 1048 to his death on 9 August that same year. He was the second of the German pontiffs nominated by Emperor Henry III. A native of Bavaria, he was the third German to become pope and had one of the shortest papal reigns.
Pope John XIII was the bishop of Rome and ruler of the Papal States from 1 October 965 to his death. His pontificate was caught up in the continuing conflict between the Holy Roman emperor, Otto I, and the Roman nobility. After long and arduous negotiations, he succeeded in arranging a Byzantine marriage for Otto II, in an effort to legitimize the Ottonian claim to imperial dignity. He also established church hierarchy in Poland and Bohemia.
Pope John XIX, born Romanus, was bishop of Rome and ruler of the Papal States from 1024 to his death. He belonged to the family of the powerful counts of Tusculum, succeeding his brother, Benedict VIII. Papal relations with the Patriarchate of Constantinople soured during John XIX's pontificate. He was a supporter of Emperor Conrad II and patron of the musician Guido of Arezzo.
Saeculum obscurum was a period in the history of the Papacy during the first two-thirds of the 10th century, beginning with the installation of Pope Sergius III in 904 and lasting for sixty years until the death of Pope John XII in 964. During this period, the popes were influenced strongly by a powerful and allegedly corrupt aristocratic family, the Theophylacti, and their relatives.
The Crescentii clan — if they were an extended family — essentially ruled Rome and controlled the Papacy from 965 until the nearly simultaneous deaths of their puppet pope Sergius IV and the patricius of the clan in 1012.
Theophylact I was a medieval count of Tusculum who was the effective ruler of Rome from around 905 through to his death in 924. His descendants controlled the papacy for the next 100 years.
The Council of Sutri was called by the Holy Roman Emperor Henry III and opened on December 20, 1046, in the hilltown of Sutri, at the edge of the Duchy of Rome. The Catholic Church does not list this as an ecumenical council.
The counts of Tusculum were the most powerful secular noblemen in Latium, near Rome, in present-day Italy between the 10th and 12th centuries. Several popes and an antipope during the 11th century came from their ranks. They created and perfected the political formula of noble-papacy, wherein the pope was arranged to be elected only from the ranks of the Roman nobles. The pornocracy, the period of influence by powerful female courtesans of the family, also influenced papal history.
Crescentius the Elder was a politician and aristocrat in Rome who played a part in the papal appointment.
Gregory I was the Count of Tusculum sometime between 954 and 1012. Consul et dux 961, vir illustrissimus 980, praefectus navalis 999. He was the son of Alberic II, and Alda of Vienne. His half-brother was Pope John XII.
Alberic III was the Count of Tusculum, along with Galeria, Preneste, and Arce, from 1024, when his brother the count Roman was elected Pope John XIX, until his own death. He was a son of Gregory I and Maria, brother of Popes Benedict VIII and John XIX, and brother-in-law of Thrasimund III of Spoleto.
Papal appointment was a medieval method of selecting a pope. Popes have always been selected by a council of Church fathers, however, Papal selection before 1059 was often characterized by confirmation or "nomination" by secular European rulers or by their predecessors. The later procedures of the papal conclave are in large part designed to constrain the interference of secular rulers which characterized the first millennium of the Roman Catholic Church, and persisted in practices such as the creation of crown-cardinals and the jus exclusivae. Appointment might have taken several forms, with a variety of roles for the laity and civic leaders, Byzantine and Germanic emperors, and noble Roman families. The role of the election vis-a-vis the general population and the clergy was prone to vary considerably, with a nomination carrying weight that ranged from near total to a mere suggestion or ratification of a prior election.
There was no uniform procedure for papal selection before 1059. The bishops of Rome and supreme pontiffs (popes) of the Catholic Church were often appointed by their predecessors or by political rulers. While some kind of election often characterized the procedure, an election that included meaningful participation of the laity was rare, especially as the popes' claims to temporal power solidified into the Papal States. The practice of papal appointment during this period would later result in the jus exclusivae, i.e., a right to veto the selection that Catholic monarchs exercised into the twentieth century.
The Synod of Rome (963) was a possibly uncanonical synod held in St. Peter’s Basilica from 6 November until 4 December 963, under the authority of the Holy Roman Emperor, Otto I to depose Pope John XII. The events of the synod were recorded by Liutprand of Cremona.